KEY POINTS

  • WHO sidelines Taiwanese doctors at global conferences, excluded it from mailouts
  • Taiwan has 20 confirmed cases of Covid-19
  • Taiwan's 24 million people at risk of coronavirus infection

As the coronavirus, now named Covid-19, spreads through China having killed close to 2,000 people, it appears that the Communist giant is using the World Health Organization (WHO) as a pawn in an effort to “weaponize” the epidemic against nearly 24 million people in Taiwan.

It is no secret that China covets a total reunification with the island state. Chinese President Xi Jinping has openly stated that any means necessary, including military force, could be used to reach that goal. This is evidenced by Chinese bombers and jet fighters circling the island last week and crossing over into Taipei’s side of the Taiwan Strait.

Now Beijing may be using WHO to move closer to the reunification with money and politics taking front row while the non-partisan Covid-19 makes headway into Taiwan.

Currently, WHO considers Taiwan a part of China and thus any information or communication that is of interest to the Taiwanese people first goes through Chinese authorities. Taiwan is often left out of the information loop.

Not passing unpleasant and possibly vital information is a characteristic of the Communist Chinese government. It loves international praise but is averse to international criticism. This aversion is why it is keen on keeping Taiwan in the dark about coronavirus developments that may draw criticism to the mainland. And WHO goes along with it as Taiwanese doctors get sidelined at international crisis conferences and are excluded from receiving global medical mailouts.

Taiwan has embraced cuddly mascots and humour to ease public anxiety about the new coronavirus and educate on best practices Taiwan has embraced cuddly mascots and humour to ease public anxiety about the new coronavirus and educate on best practices Photo: AFP / Sam Yeh

Australia’s Lowy Institute analyst Natasha Kassam, writing for Foreign Policy Magazine, asked the most pertinent question, “Under what other circumstances would 24 million people be excluded from representation in such an important organization?

She was critical of WHO and added, “Beijing, and the WHO authorities that bend to its will, (are) allowing political and diplomatic sensitivities to interfere with the administration of global health and safety.”

News.com.au asked a tougher question in an article published online Tuesday. It asked how Taiwan was supposed to get the best information, by the fastest means possible, to protect its people when it is in Beijing’s best interests not to give that info to them? That is a deadly scenario for the island nation of 24 million people.

That scenario may be playing out. Taiwan’s health and welfare minister Chen Shih-chung told reporters about a taxi driver from central Taiwan who died of Covid-19, “This latest case was an unlicensed taxi driver. His main clients were people who had been to China, Hong Kong and Macao.” The driver himself had not been to China.

With 20 confirmed cases, the disease has likely established itself in the general population. The Taiwanese people deserve to know why, WHO needs to stop kowtowing to China, and Taiwan needs to be made a separate and full member of WHO. Beijing, not surprisingly, insists it is doing all it can to assist Taiwan.